Monday, January 23, 2006


President Fidel Castro of Cuba became the 31st world leader to honor my request and only the second leader to respond without a photo.

Being that I am not fluent in Spanish I am not quite sure what he did send or what it says. If anyone can help me out here it would be greatly appreciated. Below you'll find a scan of the back of the above.

Cuba is said to be a beautiful country but unfortunately by law I cannot visit. While the embargo also prohibits all economic, commercial, and financial ties, plain letters it seems are allowed. (Restrictions are in place for parcels though.)

Looking at the letter you'll see two postmarks with different dates. The one on the front is dated December 30 while the one on back is dated January 5. The one on back says "Certificado." Could it mean the one on the back is something other than a postmark?

The letter took a while to arrive and I wonder if perhaps it had to go through a third country to be in compliance with the embargo. I would imagine fifteen days is a long time for a country only 90 miles from the US.

One more thing about the postmark I noticed: Why is the month in roman numerals? Is that common practice?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alma Mater, University of Havana
University Hill, City of Habana, Cuba

Text taken from the remarks of the commander in chief Fidel Castro, on receiving the Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise, First Class, from Leonid Kuchma, President of Ukraine, 16th of June 2000.

2:31 PM  
Anonymous Abigail said...

Not meaning to be rude or nosy, but why are you prevented by law from visiting Cuba? What did you do??!

4:41 PM  
Anonymous Alison said...

It's the government's rule because it's a communist country and American's aren't supposed to spend money there or necessarily visit. Although as mentioned there are loopholes with traveling or in this case mail going through to a third country like Canada or Mexico for instance.

6:57 PM  
Anonymous Matt said...

According to, "certificado" means "registered". Interesting how it's stamped across the envelope flap to make it easier to tell if it's been opened.

As for Roman numerals for the month, I've seen that many times from different countries.

But I saw one thing that looks distinctly Cuban: your name is given as "Co. Joel Schmidt". Would that be short for "Comrade"?

11:39 PM  
Anonymous Harold said...

Hey i live in Ireland and it took over 5 months for a postcard from Havana to arrive here. Infact one card took 1 month, the second took 3 months and the thrid arrived yesterday. All 3 were posted at the same time and in the same place!

8:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

matt- Since the Spanish word for comrade is compaƱero, that's very well possible.

6:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, and here's an attepted translation of the speech (should be mostly correct): "The best of culture and knowledge must be univeralized and national identities, art, costumes, habits, religions, even the dialects of the smallest communities, all the fruits of the talents and laborious work of all the people must be preserved as the most valuable treasures of humanity." - Fidel Castro Ruz

6:24 AM  

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